Higher Education Research Commercialisation Intellectual Property Framework

The department is developing the Higher Education Research Commercialisation (HERC) Intellectual Property (IP) Framework (Framework) to provide a clear pathway through the complexity of universities working with industry partners.

The Framework

The Framework is being developed to provide standardised IP licensing and contractual agreements to establish a strong foundation for negotiating and managing successful university-industry collaboration and partnerships. It aims to support and facilitate the initiation, development, and sustainability of commercialisation connections between universities and businesses. The HERC IP Framework also aims to reduce the complexity of research organisations and companies working together by providing information, guidance, agreements for lower risk transactions and agreement templates for more complex, higher risk transactions, which can serve as a starting point for collaborators to reach a final agreement. 

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What is the aim for HERC IP Framework?

Upon completion the HERC IP Framework will provide prospective collaborators with:

  • step-by-step information to help you learn more about IP in the context of university-industry collaboration for university-led research
  • standardised agreement templates to assist in the negotiation process
  • general principles behind the HERC IP Framework’s approach.
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Policy Consultation Paper

On 7 July 2021, the Minister for Education and Youth and Youth convened a working group of experts from across university and industry to develop a Higher Education Research Commercialisation IP Framework.

Interested parties and members of the public were invited to contribute their perspectives on the development of an IP Framework. The rationale, scope, and design elements of an IP Framework are outlined in the consultation paper with some optional discussion questions that may be used as a prompt to guide your submission.

Submissions on the Higher Education Research Commercialisation IP Framework consultation paper closed at 10.00 am AEDT 18 October 2021.

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Framework Consultation

The department has developed a preliminary HERC IP Framework, consisting of twelve standardised agreements, in consultation with industry, government, and higher education stakeholders. Feedback is now invited on these agreements prior to finalisation of the HERC IP Framework.  

HERC IP Framework materials are available. Materials in the HERC IP Framework available for feedback are:

  • Accelerated Agreements: Agreements with less flexibility and more standardisation of key terms and clauses. For relevant funding programs, higher education providers will be required to offer these agreements to industry partners where applicable.
  • Standard Agreements: Agreements allowing greater flexibility to negotiate within the agreement. For relevant funding programs, higher education providers would be required to make industry partners aware of the relevant agreement before commencing negotiations.
  • Plain English Agreements: Plain English versions of the agreements to assist users in understanding key terms and clauses as well as the obligations that arise from the agreements. These documents are not to be considered as separate legal agreements but rather as guidance to assist users in understating their relevant agreement.
  • Guidance Materials: Guidance Materials include individual agreement packs and a Practical Guidance document to help those who need it for their research commercialisation journey and those only looking to navigate a particular agreement.

Feedback on the standardised agreements and plain English equivalents should be provided in the feedback template. Additionally, a maximum of 2000 additional words can be provided on feedback for the educational guidance materials and the broader Framework.

Submissions on the Higher Education Research Commercialisation IP Framework will close at 5.00pm AEDT 25 February 2022.

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While the information in this online education and guidance material is designed to assist users through the commercialisation journey, the material produced by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment is to be used for reference purposes only. It is recommended that when engaging in university-research commercialisation or collaboration activities that independent advice is sought by both parties. Independent legal advice will help ensure that individual circumstances are considered as well as commercial sensitivities.

Additionally, it is recommended that any industry partner who is receiving the Research and Development Tax Incentive and is utilising an HERC IP Framework agreement which involves IP will require separate independent advice. Independent advice will help ensure that agreements are set up which do not conflict with tax rules that underpin eligibility for programs that are foundational to government support for business R&D and commercialisation. In particular, it is recommended that any agreement is examined to ensure it does not conflict with the ATO’s expenditure ‘at risk’ rule or the ATO’s expenditure ‘on own behalf’ rule.